Indian American filmmaker Namrata Singh Gujral’s work on her latest film, “5 Weddings,” fetched her the ‘Best Director’ award at the seventh annual Washington, DC South Asian Film Festival 2018, which was held Sept. 7-9 at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland.
Gujral’s film 5 Weddings, which highlights the challenges faced by the transgender community in India, known as “hijras,” was the festival’s closing night film. Nearly three-dozen independent feature, short and documentary films were screened at the three-day festival which ended on September 9.
The festival was held in partnership with Montgomery College and Women in Film and Television (WIFT). About three dozen independent feature, short and documentary films were screened at the festival, which named “Life of Pi” actor Suraj Sharma the ‘International Rising Star Actor.’
Indian actor Inaamul Haq won the ‘Best Actor’ award for his film, “Nakkash,” while Kalyanee Mulay won the ‘Best Actress’ award for “Nude.” “T for Taj Mahal” was declared the ‘Best Film,’ and Danish Renzu, a native of Kashmir and an alumnus of UCLA, was named the ‘Rising Star Director.’
Film producer Boney Kapoor received the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award at the festival, which was presented by DC South Asian Arts Council Inc., in partnership with Montgomery College and Women in Film and Television.
“5 Weddings” stars actors Rajkummar Rao and Nargis Fakhri. In the film, an Indian American journalist, played by Fakhri, travels to India to cover the colorful vibrancy of Indian weddings. Once there, she begins to explore the lives of Hijras, a sect of transgender dancers who have been an integral part of Indian weddings for centuries.
A conflict arises when she decides to delve more into the life of a Hijra but her government designated liaison officer (Rao) is told to put a stop to her endeavor.
The film is set to release Oct. 26. Gujral, who has battled both breast and blood cancer, is also the creator of the “1 a Minute” initiative, a celebrity-packed documentary about cancer. Also an actress, Gujral has appeared in films like “Kaante” and “Americanizing Shelley.”
“5 Weddings” also stars Academy Award nominee Candy Clark, Golden Globe nominee Bo Derek and Dutch American actor Anneliese Van der Pol.